A Maryland man suspected in the August disappearance of his traveling companion in Aruba must be released from jail on Tuesday. Gary Giordano will be free to leave the island, but prosecutors are trying to fight the ruling with an appeal.
An Aruban judge declined prosecutors’ request to hold a Maryland man in jail another 30 days, his lawyers told NBC News.
Gary Giordano, who is suspected in the presumed death of his travel companion, Robyn Gardner, of Frederick, Md., could walk free Tuesday.
“After Mr. Giordano and myself have argumented before the judge reasons why there should be no more reason for him to remain detained, even if there are reasons for further investigation, the judge agreed with that, and the judge decided that she would not grant the prosecution another extension, which means that Mr. Giordano will have to be released this coming Tuesday at eight o’clock in the evening,” said his attorney, Chris Lejuez.
Aruban Solicitor General Taco Stein appealed the decision to a higher court -- a panel of three judges -- but if that appeal doesn’t happen before Tuesday, Giordano will be released and can board a plane back to the United States, News4’s Jane Watrel reported. Stein doesn’t know when the appeal date will be set, but said Friday afternoon he believes it will be Monday.
In Aruba, charges can be filed only once. Prosecutors need more time before filing charges, Stein said.
“If you file a charge then you have to write the suspicions you have, and that means you have to be clear about what exactly has happened,” he said. “As long as we don’t have the body or we don’t have trace evidence or we don’t have the material to bring us to a conclusion on that, it’s very difficult to make a charge, because the only thing at this point in time you can say is she went missing on the second of August and we presume she’s dead but we don’t have evidence to that effect.”
Prosecutors do intend to charge Giordano eventually.
“We feel that a crime has been committed,” Stein said. “We still see Mr. Giordano as the main suspect in that.”
They need more time to analyze information on Giordano's laptop and iPad, Stein said.
Giordano can be extradited back to Aruba when prosecutors feel they have enough evidence to go to court, Stein told Watrel.
Giordano, a 50-year-old businessman from Gaithersburg, Md., cried when he heard the judge's ruling, which was issued during a private hearing, Lejuez said.
“He would not believe that after four months, someone is finally willing to give him the benefit of the doubt,” Lejuez said.
Giordano denies wrongdoing, maintaining Gardner was swept out to sea while they were snorkeling Aug. 2. Her body has not been found.
Investigators developed Giordano as a suspect because he tried to cash in on a travel insurance policy he took out on Gardner and there were inconsistencies in his story, authorities have said.
Lejuez said his client is innocent.
“The prosecution has conducted a large number of investigations, with non-relevant results,” he said. “It is time to give someone the benefit of the doubt, especially when nothing is found to concretely accuse him.”
Giordano was detained Aug. 5 at the airport before he could leave the island. His detention has been extended several times since then.
“I'm just going to ... hope the FBI has something on him,” Gardner's boyfriend, Richard Forester of Rockville, Md., said Friday after hearing of the judge's ruling.
The FBI had searched Giordano's home in Maryland following his detention in Aruba. The FBI did not immediately comment Friday.
“It’s our intention and our determination to continue this investigation and to see to it to bring about the truth, not only for the island but especially for the relatives of Robyn, especially this time of year with the holidays coming up,” Stein said. “It must be very hard on them that this situation still exists.”